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Wolff surprised by positive response to retirement announcement

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LONDON – Williams test driver Susie Wolff is surprised by the “overwhelmingly positive” response she has received since announcing her decision to retire earlier this month.

Wolff has been the leading female driver in Formula 1 over the past few years, becoming the first woman to take part in a grand prix weekend session in 22 years during practice for last year’s British Grand Prix.

Three more F1 practice sessions followed, but Wolff confirmed three weeks ago that she would be hanging up her helmet following this weekend’s Race of Champions in London.

Speaking to MotorSportsTalk ahead of the event, Wolff said that she was feeling very positive ahead of the weekend despite it being her competitive racing event.

“I’m actually just feeling really happy,” she said. “I’m very happy with my decision, it feels like the right time, and it’s a great event to go out on. It’s so much fun out there, so looking forward to the weekend.

“I always said throughout my whole career that as soon as I felt that I couldn’t go any further, I was going to call it a day.

“I realized in the summer of this year that I couldn’t get any further, I couldn’t get onto the grid next year, and for me, my gut feeling tells me that it’s time for something else; a new challenge, a new chapter, because I’ve been racing since I was eight.

“It’s been a fantastic journey but it’s time for something new.”

When asked how she had found the public reaction to her announcement, Wolff said: “Overwhelmingly positive, which was a shock because I’ve always had my critics out there.

“But I think ultimately it was, for me, really, really nice to see how many people I had inspired along the way because I never set out to be a role model or to be someone inspirational.

“Somehow I managed to throughout my career inspire people. So for me that was very, very touching to hear and to read.”

Wolff will take part in the Race of Champions Nations Cup on Friday, racing for Team Scotland alongside ex-F1 driver David Coulthard, before vying for individual honors on Saturday at London’s former Olympic Stadium.

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.